Dream and Dare
“Ahhhh…marriage- man’s most optimistic endeavor!
So claims the legendary sports announcer of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Vin Scully.
The Synod has acknowledged anew what God’s people have known “from the beginning”: that to live a loving, lifelong, faithful, life-giving marriage takes sacrifice, hard work, and heroic virtue.
To believe this to be possible, as Vin Scully would remind us, is “most optimistic.”
Perhaps this is one of the reasons many of our young people do not get married. Recent studies in the United States tell us that only 50% of our young people now approach the sacrament of matrimony. Live together? Yes. Marry? Not yet.
Many of the synod fathers have pondered why? Could it be they’re scared of a permanent commitment? Maybe it’s because they’re afraid of failure, as they look around and see so many divorces, or sad, unhappy marriages. Others ask if its because they want to wait, to “put marriage off” until they have enough money and things in their life are more settled.
One shrewd bishop wondered if our young people have lost a sense of dream and dare. After all, he observed, a lifelong love is a dream everyone has; to attempt one is nothing less than a dare.
As he spoke, I recalled a marriage I witnessed a while back. The groom had been, he had told me, very sexually active with a number of different women, and even lived with one for two years. He had been content, and felt no deeper, more formal, permanent union was necessary for him…
…Until, he continued, he went to the wedding of a good Catholic friend. There, he told me, he saw a man and a woman dream together; there, he heard his friend and the woman he loved dare to say “ You’re the only one I want the rest of my life.”
It was then he admitted that he had become cold, complacent, and self-content. His life was tidy, ordered, safe. He was reluctant to give-up his comfort, his pleasure, his routine, all his “stuff.” He realized he was hardly “loving” his partners at all, but, enjoying them, using them, possessing them as just another object. He had stopped dreaming; he was reluctant to take a dare.
Then, at the nuptial Mass, he saw this young couple dream out loud and live out a dare. Here was at least one place, one group of people – he later recognized this was the Church—where it was natural to dream and dare, where people were still romantics, really believing that ideas such as “forever,” “love,” “for better-or-worse,” were achievable!
He had thought he was the one who was free, liberated, not “tied down,” and that his friend, after marriage, would be the one trapped and weighed down with the burden of marriage.
But, he concluded, he had to admit that he was actually the one locked-into a secure, predictable, comfortable, pleasant existence. He had lost any sense of dream and dare.
He wanted then to have a wife and children… and I had the joy of witnessing his marriage two years later.
In the Church — which he had caricatured as stale, out-of-date, moribund—he had found the freedom to dream and dare.
We have a God, Jesus, who asks us to “cast out into the deep!” That’s a dare! We have a God who often speaks of the dream He has for His people.
Today’s poets, today’s romantics, today’s bold dreamers unafraid to take a dare… happen to be our faithful married couples.
What’s so clear at this synod is that the Church loves you, needs you, supports you.